At the first High Quality Development of Cruise Shipbuilding Forum held by China Merchants Industrial Group (CMI) this August, Hu Xianfu, CEO of CMI, spoke about the company’s continuing efforts in the sector. In May last year, CMI signed its first construction contract for a domestic medium-sized luxury cruise ship, but Xianfu explains that the company is involved in the sector from the perspective of the whole industry chain and is attempting to create a cruise industry ecosystem.
He says: “The company takes into consideration its service capabilities from the perspective of the entire process and providing customers with cruise ship manufacturing solutions, rather than just building a factory and making a product.”
Over the past year, CMI has invested considerably in its cruise ship infrastructure. It has acquired Finnish ship design group Deltamarin, established a cruise ship research & development (R&D) centre in Italy, as well as a China Merchants Group Cruise Research Institute in Shanghai, which aims to establish front-end capabilities in basic cruise ship design, concept design, ship type R&D, etc.
Xianfu adds: “At the same time, we have promoted the construction of a world-class cruise ship intelligent manufacturing base, constructed a supporting industrial park for cruise ship construction, and built China’s first site for cruise ship refurbishment, which can provide customers with full life cycle services.”
In September 2019, CMI delivered China’s first domestic polar exploration cruise ship, Greg Mortimer, through which Xianfu comments that CMI has built up its experience with Safe Return to Port provisions, welding-induced deformation of sheet metal, vibration and noise control, complex cooperative operations, and more. He adds that: “Since the completion of the first polar exploration cruise ship, we have carried out special analysis to determine competency gaps between our construction of polar cruise ships and medium-sized cruise ships, such as detailed design, ship performance, etc.”
Based on these experiences and benchmarking, CMI has gradually identified the gaps in its development of medium-sized cruise ship construction and Xianfu notes that, at present, the company is in the process of exploring ways to resolve future key problems.
He comments: “In this regard, we pay particular attention to the issues with cabin units as well as firefighting and life-saving equipment. For cabin units, their standardised production needs to be addressed and, even if it does not affect the beauty and structure of a cruise ship, the layout of firefighting and life-saving equipment is worth studying.
“There will also be some difficulties in the construction stage, and thermal deformation related to sheet metal cutting and welding has always been a major problem in the field of cruise ship construction.”
In the construction of polar exploration cruise ships, the joint research and development between CMI’s Haimen site and steel manufacturing enterprises has resolved problems with sheet metal thickness (5mm) and tolerance (0-0.2mm) as well as welding deformation issues in the manufacturing process. However, Xianfu notes that, in contrast to polar exploration vessels, medium-sized cruise ships have larger volumes and have a greater uncertainty of sheet deformation, which increases the difficulty of construction.
While CMI has previously built small cruise ships and is exploring medium-sized ones, the business does not intend to branch out into large-scale luxury vessels. Xianfu says this is because, at present, China Shipbuilding Group wants to make the most of its position as China’s biggest shipbuilder and its established advantage with regards to accumulated resources.